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Old Cooperians set sights on top-three finish

PUBLISHED: 13:00 17 February 2017

Old Cooperians Kolade Awobowale and Pat Reed

Old Cooperians Kolade Awobowale and Pat Reed

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Player-coach Reed reveals target for end of season

Old Cooperians player-coach Pat Reed says his side have set their sights on securing a top-three finish in London Two North East this season.

The Upminster club sat at the summit earlier in the campaign, having stretched their winning run from their promotion-winning season to 21 matches.

And they now find themselves in fifth place, 10 points behind Cantabrigians in third, after last weekend’s 25-17 win at Ipswich.

Cooperians return to St Mary’s Lane to host lowly Holt tomorrow (Saturday) and Reed said: “We spoke the week after Christmas leading up to the Campion game and said one more win would put us safe, so we were then saying third was our target.

“Finishing third, for us, would be like winning the league. The middle of the table is so congested so we’ve got to be on the ball, as two losses could put you down in ninth or tenth.

“For us, six games to go, we’re targetting third place.”

Kolade Awobowale’s first-half hat-trick set Cooperians up for success in snowy Suffolk last weekend, with Craig Ratford also touching down to secure a bonus point.

Reed added: “We played the conditions well. We talked about controlling the game from start to finish and our game management, which hasn’t been the best the last few weeks with us not getting the results, was outstanding.

“The first 20-30 minutes of the game we probably entered their half three times and we come out with three scores, so we were over the moon with how clinical we were.

“They’re the tries that in previous weeks we haven’t put away, hence the results not going our way so it was good to see them finally going in.

“Kolade’s an outstanding finisher and I’ve said before we’re a different team when we’ve got him out wide because he is such a threat.

“We’re fortunate that we’ve got the backs inside him to provide him with decent ball to put the scores away.”

Ipswich got back to within five points with around 10 minutes to go, but Ratford’s penalty ended hopes of a comeback after Coopers had lost Lewis Nichols to injury.

The youngster was making his return to action after dislocating a knee back in September and Reed said: “It was management of players, looking at the games we’ve got to come, we felt like we could bring some players off and look at the games coming up.

“It bit us in the arse a little bit because they scored, but the game management we showed that we’ve been working on, allowed us to finish off and take the win and importantly not give Ipswich a losing bonus point.

“It was a big shame for Lewis. He was looking forward to playing and has worked really hard since September to get back from his knee injury.

“And then he comes on, takes one carry, but that’s rugby, you’re going to take knocks but hopefully he won’t be too bad.”

New signings James Ox and Conor O’Toole both impressed on their debuts, having joined from Barking, and Reed is hoping the duo can help Cooperians achieve their top-three goal over the next eight weeks.

“They’ve only had two training sessions with us. Conor did pre-season but went back to Barking, but they’re both familiar with the club and there’s still a lot more to come,” he said.

“They’re both outstanding players and when they do settle in, I think the final six games they will start to pay dividends.”

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